Monday, March 31, 2008

Snapshots from a Weekend

It is still cold here in NYC so biking is still on hold. Instead, we really have just been doing our own thing at home.

Included in that, this weekend:

a birthday lunch ...
a few rows on a blanket ...and explorations into the unfamiliar realm of curly hair. (Thanks, Nina!)

Now for another week of work, which includes, special for this week, Parent-Teacher conferences with both adults sitting on the teacher side of the desk.

Many of my side of the family will also be congregating in San Antonio for the Final Four. I'm only jealous because it's warm there.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


5 kids, 4 grandkids and oh, so much love!

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Count Down

No, not what some of you think, but rather counting down the rows on the blanket flower.

There are 134 more rows.

At 4 rows per night it will take 34 nights.

That's 5 weeks, folks.

Tuesday evenings are a write off and there will be three of them between now and Spring Break.

The first two nights of Passover are also gone from the knitting calendar.

So, assume 10 lost nights (figure other stuff will get in the way), that makes it 45 nights to finish the flower. Then 136 rows of yellow and 32 rows of orange seed stitch. That's another 42 nights assuming I continue with 4 rows per night. Maybe up it to 6 for the yellow and then back down to 4 for the seed stitch and make it 31 nights. Now forget about the lost nights for now and we are projecting 65 nights to finish the knitting and one more to hide the ends (optimistic, aren't I). That brings us to: June 2. 19 days before Squidette's birthday.

Any bets?

(That said, I'm actually doing far more then 4 rows a night right now, but I don't want to count on being able to keep up that momentum.)

(And, for those of you who understood the first sentence, the number is 60.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blanket Progress -- So there!

So There! to those who thought my speed would not increase with the fewer skeins of yarn. Keeping to my goal of 4 rows per day, I now have an 18 row surplus and could, if I wished, go 4.5 days without working on the blanket if I wished. That said, there will be rows where I will need 7 or more balls of yarn at once so I think I need to build up that surplus now.

Tonight I should hit the point where the first two petals join with petals 3 and 4, roughly 1/3 of the way through the flower. No, I have not calculated on what date I should be finishing the flower and recommencing plain yellow knitting. I figure the blanket is good to last me through the entire spring and into the summer.

We'll see ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Seen on the Street

Every so often traffic is slow enough that not only do I have time to admire the backs of the trucks in front of me, but I also have time (while stopped at traffic lights) to take pictures of them.

Here are two that I often see on my way into work. Look closely (maybe click to make bigger) to get why they make me smile.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blanket Progress

I made some major progress on Squidette's blanket this week, fulfilling my goal of a minimum of 4 rows per night. Yesterday I finally hit the point where the first two petals meet and am now only working with three skeins of yarn instead of 5. Things should go a little faster now and I may set my sights at 5 rows per night for the next few weeks. (270 stitches per row still takes a lot of time, I'm only gaining maybe a minute per row with two fewer skein changes.)

There was also some spinning this week, but in my zeal to have more yarn leave the stash then enter it, I am not skeining the new stuff up quite yet. Yes, I know it is a cheat but allow me my delusions.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

From Mini-Me to Oh My!


This Morning


Oh, and did I mention that she is playing with the New York Pops, at Carnegie Hall, at the end of April?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday Roundup and a Sweater from the Past

Work, meeting, tea with my folks. That's it.

What? You want more?

Mind if I skip the first two?

How about this? The gifting of the Daddy.

Doesn't look like much, does it? Lil' Sis and I stood in for all 5 siblings and presented Daddy with his birthday present, 10 days early. He kept saying that he didn't want a fuss, so we kept it low key. A birthday card/photo collage/ poem constructed by the eldest sib and a pair of tickets to Young Frankenstein. Lil' Sis and I stepped away after the last picture to let Dad regain his composure.

Since I can never leave my folks empty handed, I came home with this:

Knit by my Bubby for my Zedda. Now, unfortunately, full of moth holes and stains and, in my opinion, unsalvageable. But, now documented for posterity. Look at that detail. She even put in ribbon to stabilize the buttons.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Three Dollars and a Test

I hit the post office today and, putting a $20 bill into the vending machine, received two books of stamps and $3 and something cents in change. The $3 looked like this:
Yup, 3 different dollar coins. A Susan B. Anthony, circa 1980; a Sacagawea, circa 2000; and a brand-spanking-new James Monroe!

Yes, it doesn't take much to amuse me.

This test also amused me. Give it a try.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Legal At Last

As I type, I am unsure if the last of my siblings to reach age 21 is even asleep -- she might still be out partying. I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that she would be celebrating St. Patrick's Day until at least 12:01 AM when she turned 21 and no longer needed her fake ID.

And, so, I'd like you all to whisper (because of her hangover) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!. (I have absolutely NO sympathy and am a mean sister.) Tonight I will have a drink in your honor.

Happy Birthday, Amanda! We all love you!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Buildings, Blankets and Friends

Yesterday I set out in search of fiber. My information was flawed, however, and I could not find it, despite walking a block east and a block west of the original designation. Oh well, I did get a nice walk in and snapped some interesting photos for my faithful blog readers.
Would it bother you to learn that One Fifth Avenue is not the lowest address on Fifth?

But I'm pretty sure that One Half Fifth Avenue is the lowest.
And then there are the Mews. Scroll down in the link. Formerly stables, they are now residential and form a quiet, private, street just north of Washington Square Park. They are, by the way, situated between One Half and One Fifth Avenue.


I did promise work on the blanket, and 8 rows were added last night. More rows were added to the rib warmer but then there are only 30 stitches per row vs 270 for the blanket.

The evening concluded with a phone conversation with Susan! It was great to put a voice to the blog presence and we talked like we'd known each other forever. Thank you, Susan!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Two weekends ago , with the laundry done a day early, Squidette and I spent a lovely morning crafting while Little Squid was off at hebrew school. I helped Squidette wind a warp for her small loom using some coned lace weight merino that was marinating in my stash and then sat down to spin while she wove.

Fast forward to sometime this week ...

Pink warp (double stranded) with blue weft (single strand). It softened and fulled to just the right amount with washing.

On my end ...
Roughly 500 yards of Cochineal / Osage dyed Corriadale spun to an uneven worsted weight with a nice rustic texture to match the rusticness of the coloring. On top, 320 yards of 3 ply, lace weight (pretty evenly spun after plying) cotton. I'm thinking lace scarf with the cotton.

On the knitting front, Squidette's blanket has 12 rows out of 185 done of the flower. Yea, I did not work on it the last few nights and instead, started a Rib Warmer using my cochineal dyed corriadale from a few weeks ago. I needed to knit something that would quickly use up a ball of yarn. Got to even out yarn out to yarn in with all this spinning and the blanket will not yield a finished ball for at least 50 - 100 more rows with 5 being used at a time right now. I'll go back to it tonight. Promise!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Honest Squid

I am a strong believer in honesty. Lies, even small ones, have a habit of coming back to haunt me, big time. So, I don't lie. I will sometimes shade the truth, but I refuse to outright lie.

So why did a truth come and bite me in the rear yesterday? Ah, it probably wasn't the truth but rather the recipient just being them self. Regardless ... I needed what is in the previous post. At least the raw version once I calmed down a little. I think I need to do some more unraveling today.

Will I ever, really reveal what the heck is going on around here? Nope, not publicly. Unfortunately for this story, this blog is too public. I do promise, however that it has NOTHING to do with any other Squid. Promise. Remember, I don't tell lies.


And, an aside to Susan. What you sent me yesterday? I may use it tonight if I can figure out the time difference. Thank you!

Sometimes You Just Need Cookies

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not MY Son!

Summary of a real conversation:

Mr. X: Mrs. Squid? This is Mr. X, your son's Phys Ed teacher. Little Squid has been unprepared for the last six weeks.

Me: Huh? How? Isn't all he requires sneakers?

Mr. X: He hasn't worn sneakers on a Tuesday for the last 6 weeks.

Me: Huh? My son doesn't own any other shoes. Even his dress shoes are too small.

Mr. X: I can describe them -- black crocs with a yellow stripe.

Me: He doesn't own Crocs. He goes to school every day in his sneakers with his road ID attached.

Mr. X: Eveery Tuesday he's been wearing crocs.

Me to Little Squid -- do you own crocs that I don't know about?

Little Squid: No

Me: He doesn't own crocs he only has sneakers right now. (Poking around Little Squid's closet.) I know he's lazy in Phys Ed but unprepared?

Mr. X: Every Tuesday ...

Me: Will you be there for conferences tomorrow? (Thinking that I have to show him Little Squid in order to set this straight.)

Mr. X: Yes, until about 3:00.

Me to Little Squid (With lightbulb suddenly on) What day do you have Mr. X.

Little Squid: Thursday

Me: My son has Phys Ed on Thursday, Mrs. L's Class.

Mr. X: Starting to stress the same point again ...

Little Squid: It could be the other Little Squid

Me: Huh?

Mr. X: Oh! I'm so sorry! There is another Little Squid in second grade. I'm so sorry. I just saw the name Little Squid and assumed the last name.

Me: That's o.k.

Mr. X: And he's been doing better lately. I'm really sorry.

Me: It's o.k., I'm a teacher and have made the same mistake. I'll still come by tomorrow.

Mr. X; O.k.,

Me: See you tomorrow. Bye. (Click)

Massive amounts of laughter in the Squid household tonight. Little Squid has an unusual real first name. It never occurred to me that there was another child with the same name in the school.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Man I Love

This is the man I love. For the last 17 years we have been joined as one. For longer then that, we have shared each other's joys and sorrows.

When you go to work on your birthday it is almost permissible to be giggly and funny as you let slip that the day is special.

An anniversary is different. You feel special but expressing it to others is tough. Today I tried to wear my love on my sleeve. O.k., not my sleeve, but my fingers, wrist and neck. Four pieces of jewelry, all given to me with love by my husband. My wedding band and engagement rings, which always (except of really long bike rides) adorn my hands. My bracelet, delivered in a cardboard box, to my mentor, to give to me. She said it was from the Superintendent's office. I was skeptical as it was taped shut with electrical tape and anyway, I'd just come back from that office! My necklace, slipped in my purse with the expectation that I'd see it when I purchased my breakfast. The money for my roll was in my pocket so I didn't see it until I got to work. And then cried. Not because of the gift itself, but of the love that I know went into the acquisition and presentation. The love of the gentle surprise.

That is what Mike is about. The gentle surprise. The love. The caring. The reading of my mind. The last 17 years and longer. And, of course, the kids. I pray that the years will just go on and on. I know the love will.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunny Day ...

So the clouds are gone but it was still too cold and too windy to ride. Oh well, there is always next weekend.

Let's see how I did with my goals for this weekend:

1. Get on the trainer as soon as this post is done.


2. Spin some more cotton -- only 7 grams left of the colorful stuff.

Finished spinning and plying it. It is now skeined and soaking (and running) in the sink. What can I do with 380 yards of lace weight cotton?

3. Laundry (with some spindle spinning while washing / drying).

No spinning while this happened -- Mike did the laundry while I was doing #6.

4. Take Squidette and her ever growing feet for shoes and other girl stuff.

New shoes and a blow dryer with diffuser (for her curly hair) purchased. And a pretzel at Aunt Annies.

5. Make more progress on Squidette's blanket -- the yellow has now been broken with the purple and there are now 3 skeins of yarn in use, going to 4 by the end of the evening (3 of them yellow).

Ripped back the 3 rows that I had knit and then made actual progress with 4 more rows before abandoning it for a sock. My brain and my head (sinus headache) was hurting. You try knitting with a chart that is almost as big as the blanket on your lap! I'll do a few more rows tonight after my yarn is done washing.

6. Synagogue knitting group.

Done and Done! We finished 3 blankets -- the one I showed a week or so ago, one constructed almost entirely by the other group leader and one more assembled by another group member. I brought the almost completed fourth blanket home and will finish it before the next meeting.

I also plyed the orangy wool that I spun two weeks ago. That is soaking in one half of the kitchen sink while the cotton is on the other side.

There you go. Yup, it was a productive weekend. Now if the weather had been nicer I would not have been nearly as productive but it still would have been nice.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away ...

It looks like I have been totally defeated on the biking front this week. Tuesday morning, the weather folk were predicting rain for late in the day. Keeping my fingers crossed, I tossed my bike in the car and loaded a bag with appropriate clothing and helmet. Schelped the bag into my office only to see the rain start at noon.

Being lazy, I left the stuff in the car and in the morning heard that it was going to be clear all day -- so I brought the bag from the car back into my office. To be told that my 6:00 ladies gathering had been moved to 4:30.

Today it is raining and tomorrow it is not supposed to break 45 degrees and will be very windy. Thft!

So the weekend plans are now as such:

1. Get on the trainer as soon as this post is done.
2. Spin some more cotton -- only 7 grams left of the colorful stuff.
3. Laundry (with some spindle spinning while washing / drying).
4. Take Squidette and her ever growing feet for shoes and other girl stuff.
5. Make more progress on Squidette's blanket -- the yellow has now been broken with the purple and there are now 3 skeins of yarn in use, going to 4 by the end of the evening (3 of them yellow).
6. Synagogue knitting group.

Yes, I really do expect to do it all.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tooth Fairy Shenanigans

Seems that a tooth was lost in this family yesterday but I am only just finding out now. Why? My children (and husband) seem to be trying to trap the tooth fairy. I'm gathering the pieces to the story as left in the letter that the Tooth Fairy delivered and as dragged out of my family.

Best I can figure is that Little Squid lost a tooth in school, went to the Nurse and got some sort of container. What kind, I can't tell you since I never saw it.

The tooth fairy apparently appeared last night and, to use her words, "searched high and low" for it. Apparently she even looked under the rug.

Tenacious lady fairy.

The tooth was ultimately located under my pillow.

** blink, blink **

The letter was left at Little Squid's place at the table and the payment was left in the freezer. Where Little Squid failed to see it. But Squidette did.

Despite all of this evidence, they still seem to think that I am the tooth fairy. I'm dumb struck. How could they still believe this? And why would they doubt me.

The two of them are whispering at the table as I type this. Thft!

Oh, and I was woken very early by something moving my pillows around. I think the Tooth Fairy is losing her touch.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cover Your Head! And Climb that Mountain!

I had to bite my tongue yesterday. It is my habit to, on cold or rainy days, to nag students to cover their heads before heading out. (I also nag them to zip their jackets and put on their gloves.)

As I was about to suggest that they cover their heads, I took a second look at the group I was ready to nag. Religious young ladies. With their heads already covered. D'oh.


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of introducing Erik Weihenmayer. Our students had read his book ahead of time and knew what to expect but, I have to admit, I had not.

Erik is a mountain climber. A blind mountain climber. And skier. And ice climber. Dang!

I have to admit that I am a cynic and when I hear that an "inspirational" speaker is coming, I tend to run in the opposite direction as fast as I can. I am so glad that I stayed for this one. It wasn't that his talk was inspirational in the "you can do it, go, go go" kind of way. It was the story. It compels you to look at your own life and say "gee, I can't do that but I can do this better.

The points he makes about setting up systems and surrounding yourself with people who you can trust, about building strong teams -- those are things that stick with you.

The introduction was supposed to be made by someone else. I am SO glad that I had this opportunity.

Monday, March 03, 2008

In Like a Lamb

March March March March ...

It was so nice today that I ran out for lunch without my coat on and even stayed out long enough for my glasses to change color.

Yesterday we took Squidette's bike out for a shakedown ride and she decided that she LOVES it. Then we realized that Little Squid's bike frame is really the same size as the rest of ours and we are now trying to figure out why we didn't get him a Friday when we got his folding bike two summers ago. I suspect that he will not have to wait for his thirteenth birthday for his Bike Friday. And, if that is the case, then I guess that Squidette's bike will no longer count as her 13th birthday / Bat Mitzvah present (yes, many months early). Hmmm ...

Meanwhile, on the knitting front ...I'm 3 inches from starting the centerpiece. That means more interesting knitting. To break the boredom of 2o plus inches of plain stockinette, I give you ... leafy lace edgings. 23 stitches on either side leaving only 224 stitches of boring stockinette.
3 skeins of yellow down ... lots more to go.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Bit of Family History

While on a double date with my parents the other night (seeing Avenue Q with your father is just a little weird), my father mentioned that my Zedda (grandfather) used to work in 305 Seventh Avenue.Zedda was a furrier back in the days when wearing fur wasn't evil. My dad describes him as a very powerful man who could lift a stack of pelts as easily as you might lift a telephone book.
That's not how I remember my Zedda -- by the time I was on the scene, Zedda owned a stationary store in Queens. We'd go by every so often to visit. I remember the greeting cards and the assortment of general stuff in the store. There was candy, too, but I only really discovered that as a teen when, popping in on my own, Zedda stocked me with some goodies for a youth group trip.

I tried to see what history this building holds but was unable to find much. It is not considered to be architecturally interesting enough for my favorite NYC architecture website and a basic google only gets me some of the businesses in the building. Sorry! It is, however, a piece of family history and I will never walk by it again without thinking about my Zedda.

A Home In New York City

Today's New York Times has a great article on the rarity that is affordable housing in New York City. I am lucky in that I live in one of these "one in a million" apartments.

In the heart of New York City is a bastion of "middle class" housing, the Penn South Co-ops. Just south and west of Midtown. Barely North of the West Village and walking distance to oh so much of this wonderful city.

I am not paying through the nose for this privilege, I just got lucky.

Back when my mother-in-law taught at Humanities High School, she heard about "the list." "The List" was the waiting list at our complex. Our community was built with the backing of what is now the ILGWU. Apartments were priced so that a teacher, a firefighter, a garment worker, could afford to live near their jobs in comfort and dignity. Not only were they priced that way, a covenant was entered into with the state so that you could only get into the complex if your income fell within a certain range. When you left the complex, you sold your apartment back at the same price that you paid. Yup, no profit. As a matter of fact, we took a small loss when we moved from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom. (They called it a "restoration" fee.)

A fly over of our complex shows enough green space to give a modern real estate developer heart palpitations. (Just think of how many more apartments you could squeeze in here!)

Many of the tenants, yours truly included, still adhere to the beliefs that founded our complex -- that there should be affordable housing for the masses. When our current deal with the state runs out in a few years, our family will vote (if given the option) to not go market rate. I want to keep Penn South for the masses. For the people who do the day to day work in this city, keeping it running. My neighbors include firefighters, nurses, teachers, maintenance workers and subway motormen.

On Monday, I will share the Times article with my younger staff members. The ones who have not already moved out to New Jersey in order to find affordable homes. The lists still exist and people still get lucky. I just want to share the "wealth."